Corruption on the Loose

We present this work in honor of the 280th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Sidonia Hedwig Zäunemann
German
1711 – 1740

 

If you’ve stained your matrimonial life, deceived your creditor,
gained by lies your neighbour’s pasture and field;
if you’ve hurt your fellow-being’s coat of innocence or good reputation,
and with guile rendered yours
the token of the oppressed, which you had taken as a pawn:
Then you must not turn despondent, even though how grave they’d sue you at the court.
Soon only endeavor after an attorney, after one
who bears his good conscience in the manner that
he wears his sleeves, as if a priest’s,
who feels amused as highly by disputes,
instances of taking advantage as by quarrels,
as may feel a man, who’s been out at war,
who’s come to find lots of things to plunder,
one whose heart is full of spitefulness,
whose head of trickery,
his soul full of deceit and daring malice,
who writes seven lines only on one page,
but always swells all his writings into twenty folders,
who produces as many expenditures, as what is desired in every cause of conflict,
as he tosses and turns the procedure
until the case will have gone on for many a good year.
Him you ought to fill his bent hands with golden treasures from Ophir,
then soon will he lash out and hit on the rights of the opposite party;
then even turn to the counterpart’s and win that attorney’s favor, too;
bestow him a gift of a stately piece to wear,
a staunch and fat pig,
a barrelful of grape wine, as well as other nice things,
thus you will make that one mild and
he’ll be favouring you, too.
Likewise go and see the judge, and fill his hand –
wild men at hand – with gold from the Hungarian land.
And should he refrain from taking your things; then give them to his wife,
damask, silk and velvet for her body,
ribbons, laces, linen, and furs for her petticoats,
Fill up their store-rooms and kitchen house;
thus you’ll gain for any pending case more time,
your attorney will put things off,
your judge procrastinate them;
although how hard your opponent might attempt to see the final verdict coming.
Should he complain, o dear, tired of all the payments,
asking for justice at long last,

then it will be pointed out:
‘you have no rights.
He who’s been sparing the money shall always be the winner.’

Kubla Khan

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
English
1772 – 1834

 

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ‘twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Let Us Bestow Joy

In honor of the Turkish holiday, Republic Day, we present this work by one of Turkey’s most celebrated poets.

Nedim
Turkish
1681 – 1730

 

Let us bestow joy upon this heart filled with woe;
let us go to Sa’dabad, my beloved cypress;
here is the six-oared boat awaiting us;
let us go to Sa’dabad, my beloved cypress.

Let us laugh and play, let us enjoy the world;
let us drink nectar from the newly-made fountain;
let us watch the elixir pour from the dragon’s mouth;
let us go to Sa’dabad, my beloved cypress.

Let us go, for a while, and wander around the pond;
let us later gaze upon the Heavenly Pavilion;
let us always sing songs and recite poems;
let us go to Sa’dabad, my beloved cypress.

Ask your mother’s permission to go to the Friday prayer;
let us steal a day from reproachful destiny;
going through the secret roads towards the quay,
let us go to Sa’dabad, my beloved cypress.

Just you and me and a nice, old musician and,
if you permit, the mad poet Nedim,
let us, today, forget about the others;
let us go to Sa’dabad, my beloved cypress.

Proclamation

Alison Cockburn
Scots
1712 – 1794

 

Have you any laws to mend,
Or have you any grievance?
I’m a hero to my trade,
And truly a most leal prince
Would you have war, would you have peace?
Would you be free from taxes?
Come chapping to my father’s door,
You need not doubt of access.

Religion, law, and liberty,
Ye ken are bonnie words, sirs;
They shall be all made sure to you
If ye’ll fight wi’your swords, sirs.
The nation’s debt we soon shall pay,
If you’ll support our right, boys;
No sooner we are brought in play,
Than all things shall be tight, boys.

Ye ken that by a Union law,
Your ancient knigdom’s undone;
That all your ladies, lords, and lairds,
Gang up and live in London.
Nae longer that we will allow,
For crack—it goes asunder,
What took sic time and pains to do,
And let the world wonder

And for your mair encouragement,
Ye shall be pardoned byganes:
Nor mair fight on the Continent,
And leave behind your dry banes.
Then come away, and dinna stay,—
What gars ye look sae loundert?
I’d have ye run, and not delay,
To join my father’s standard.

An Ode on Aeolus’s Harp

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 320th birthday.

James Thomson
Scots
1700 – 1748

 

I

Ethereal race, inhabitants of air,
Who hymn your God amid the secret grove,
Ye unseen beings, to my harp repair,
And raise majestic strains, or melt in love.

II

Those tender notes, how kindly they upbraid!
With what soft woe they thrill the lover’s heart!
Sure from the hand of some unhappy maid
Who died of love these sweet complainings part.

III

But hark! that strain was of a graver tone,
On the deep strings his hand some hermit throws;
Or he, the sacred Bard, who sat alone
In the drear waste and wept his people’s woes.

IV

Such was the song which Zion’s children sung
When by Euphrates’ stream they made their plaint;
And to such sadly solemn notes are strung
Angelic harps to soothe a dying saint.

V

Methinks I hear the full celestial choir
Through Heaven’s high dome their awful anthem raise;
Now chanting clear, and now they all conspire
To swell the lofty hymn from praise to praise.

VI

Let me, ye wandering spirits of the wind,
Who, as wild fancy prompts you, touch the string,
Smit with your theme, be in your chorus joined,
For till you cease my muse forgets to sing.

Ode on Solitude

Alexander Pope
English
1688 – 1744

 

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.

Whose heards with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest! who can unconcern’dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mix’d; sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please,
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me dye;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lye.

The Assignation

George Farquhar
Irish
1677 – 1707

 

The Minute’s past appointed by my Fair,
The Minute’s fled
And leaves me dead
With Anguish and Despair.

My flatter’d Hopes their Flight did make
With the appointed Hour;
None can the Minute’s past o’retake,
And nought my Hopes restore.

Cease your Plaints, and make no Moan,
Thou sad repining Swain;
Although the fleeting Hour be gone,
The Place doe’s still remain.

The Place remains, and she may make
Amends for all your Pain;
Her Presence can past Time o’ertake,
Her Love your Hopes regain.

from Rādhikā-sāntvanam

Muddupalani
Indian
c. 1739 – 1790

 

If I ask her not to kiss me,
stroking on my cheeks
she presses my lips hard against hers.

If I ask her not to touch me,
stabbing me with her firm breasts
she hugs me.

If I ask her not to get too close
for it is not decorous,
she swears at me loudly.

If I tell her of my vow not
to have a woman in my bed,
she hops on
and begins the game of love.

Appreciative,
she lets me drink from her lips,
fondles me, talks on,
making love again and again.

How could I stay away
from her company?

From the Seashore

In honor of the Russian holiday, National Day, we present this work by the nation’s first female professional poet.

Anna Bunina
Russian
1774 – 1829

 

The shining sea
Seamless from the sky,
The quiet waves
Splashed upon the shore,
The gentle swells
Shivered just a little.

The sun is extinguished,
There is no moon,
Scarlet blaze
Glints in the west,
Birds in their nests,
Flocks in their roosts.

Everything suddenly shushed,
Everything in its place.

The room is still,
There is no rustling.
The children are cuddled
Modestly in the corners.

Lina touched
The harp strings:
The golden harp
Raised its voice;
Sounds in harmony
Sing with Lina.

Rosy flames
Shine from the fireplace;
The clear bright fire
Skips upon the coals;
The dark-gray smoke
Twists in a column.

The fierce flame
Scorches the soul;
The heart languishes,
Everything is desiccated.
Poison flows
In my veins.

Tears ran dry
In cloudy eyes,
Sighs stopped
The breast from heaving,
Speech freezes
On chilled lips!

Sea rise up!
Be a coffin for me!
Golden harp,
Strike like thunder!
Flame overflow,
Incinerate this poor woman!

The Six Bards

James MacPherson
Scots
1736 – 1796

 

Night is dull and dark,
The clouds rest on the hills;
No star with twinkling beam,
No moon looks from the skies.
I hear the blast in the wood,
But distant and dull I hear it.
The stream of the valley murmurs,
Low is its murmur too.
From the tree at the grave of the dead,
The lonely screech-owl groans.
I see a dim form on the plain,
‘Tis a ghost! it fades, it flies;
Some dead shall pass this way.
From the lowly hut of the hill
The distant dog is howling;
The stag lies by the mountain-well,
The hind is at his side;
She hears the wind in his horns,
She starts, but lies again.
The roe is in the cleft of the rock:
The heath-cock’s head beneath his wing.
No beast, no bird is abroad,
But the owl, and the howling fox;
She on the leafless tree,
He on the cloudy hill.
Dark, panting, trembling, sad,
The traveller has lost his way;
Through shrubs, through thorns he goes,
Beside the gurgling rills;
He fears the rock and the pool,
He fears the ghost of the night.
The old tree groans to the blast;
The falling branch resounds.
The wind drives the clung thorn
Along the sighing grass;
He shakes amid the night.
Dark, dusty, howling, is night,
Cloudy, windy, and full of ghosts;
The dead are abroad; my friends
Receive me from the night.